The Wild, Wild West
One of the biggest things to remember about FanZ is that we have entered a territory where the balance and power of the game is in a dangerous position. While The Dev Team has so far shown that they understand how to help propel weaker strategies back into the foreground of the meta, has doing so hurt the future of the game? Likewise, with the intent of “Leashing” certain powerful strategies, has the balance been tipped another direction entirely?
Today we are going to take a look at the MP Stack for Pikkon, to determine just how powerful he is in general, and whether his creation is a positive or negative thing for the grand scheme of the game. Are there any negatives that are too great to overcome in the future?
Let’s take a look and find out for ourselves!
Pikkon’s Level One is Pikkon – Hero of the West. His Instant Power acts as a noncancellable Sphere effect for an Event played as an action. However, there is the cost of having to Banish the top card of your own Life Deck in order to cancel their Event.
On top of this, he has a Free Energy Attack for 1 Life Card with the immediate effect of choosing any card in your discard pile to Rejuvenate. It’s important to note that the majority of his stages remain above C (having 3 levels of E and 3 levels of D), making him impressive for physical oriented decks as well.
Frankly, having a level 1 this powerful makes me worried as a more control-oriented player. Being punished for running Events (which will remain a theme for the rest of this stack) from Turn 1 forward feels pretty bad. And while I definitely agree that there needs to be an MP that focuses on deterring Event-Heavy strategies, the major problem I have with his MP by-and-large is the amount in which you are punished for playing them. Whether it be from having your effects cancelled, to having cards banished, to helping your opponent survive indefinitely. And, because of his abilities, it actually makes him a prime candidate for running that sort of strategy himself, with very little fear of being punished (outside of the mirror-match).
His energy attack, while a single Life Card of damage, can still be a valuable poking tool, especially when combo’d with effects such as Blue Resolute Mastery and Blue Lifting Drill, making it an attack you still have to respect.
Can’t Touch This
Pikkon’s Level Two is Pikkon – New Rival. This level gives us Pikkon’s 1st Constant Effect of his MP Stack, which allows you to Rejuvenate 1 and Banish the top card of your opponent’s Life Deck whenever they play an Event. He also has a Power in combat which allows you to Rejuvenate 3, then discard a card from your hand. If you decided to discard a card, then your opponent’s next attack this combat deals no damage (but will still have its Hit effects resolve).
Again, we see that this level is designed to punish Event-Heavy strategies. And while it doesn’t seem like much, after playing more than a few Events, the 2-card swing will begin to add up quite a bit. His combat Power to me feels like overkill. While not an attack, it basically turns an unwanted card (or a card with a discard effect) into virtually two blocks. The one glaring thing about this effect is that it IS NOT PREVENTION. It changes the damage to 0. Meaning cards like Krillin’s Destructo Disk or Vegeta’s Galick Gun are also hurt in addition to normal attacks. As is the case with most, if not all, of Pikkon’s levels, we are left wondering how so much could be put into a single level.
Let’s Get it On
Pikkon’s Level Three is Pikkon – Fighting Stance. With this level, Pikkon’s constant effect changes to Banishing the top 2 cards of your opponent’s Life Deck each time they play an Event. He returns with another Free Energy Attack at this level which deals 5 Life cards of damage, and an additional +5 stages of damage if your opponent has played any Events this combat. Oh, also it Rejuvenates 2 as an immediate effect. His power level remains pretty strong with 2 levels of F, 4 levels of E & 2 levels of D before falling off to C.
Being a level 3, this level certainly brings quite a bang. One of the biggest issues I’ve had with the FanZ cards (of which there are very few), is the amount of free costing/hard-hitting attacks that this set has presented. And while I’m sure it’s to try and promote energy-based decks in a potentially physical-heavy meta, I have a real issue with this sort of answer. Stages mean very little outside of physical damage calculation these days with so many free attacks. I understand that promoting stage gain over free attacks means that each of your gain effects basically counts as a block itself, but there have already been cards created to punish stage gain or turn it off entirely. And stage gain effects are inherently bad if you are not using or losing those stages at all!
Of course, you could argue that effects exist as well for adding additional costs to attacks and turning off Rejuvenation effects, but those sorts of cards have seen very little play in the past, and are likely not to see play at all unless there is an MP or deck strategy that particularly benefits from them. In my opinion, especially with the amount of modifiers that exist in the game, bigger damaging attacks should always come at a cost. The fact that this attack also Rejuvenates 2 cards without a cost is almost a joke.
Here Comes the Story of the Hurricane
Pikkon’s Level Four is Pikkon – Prized Fighter. At this level, he has a Constant Power that whenever your opponent plays an Event, you Rejuvenate 5. Like two of his previous levels, he has a Free Energy Attack. This attacks can only be stopped by Energy Combat Cards and deals 1 Life Card of Damage. However, if it hits, you also Banish the bottom 5 cards of your opponent’s Life Deck.
Level 4’s, in my opinion, should always be the flashiest level an MP stack has to offer. Something that you hope to aspire to throughout the game, and that leaves you feeling like you can’t possibly lose once you achieve it. This level certainly does that in my eyes. While the only Rejuvenation effect that can be found on this level is the hefty 5 attached to his Constant Power, the fact that this attack basically reads 6 unpreventable damage (5 of which is banished), puts the hurt on your opponent in a big hurry if they are caught without energy blocks, or only Event blocks!
What’s Going On?
So with all of this said, what does it really mean for the game as a whole? For me personally, it signifies the death of a particular style of deck within the meta. Decks in Black and Namekian that are based heavily on Events are virtually unplayable as long as you have the chance to run into Pikkon. But is that honestly a bad thing? Well, like most things in this game, it’s all a matter of perspective.
If you are the sort of player that enjoys interesting play and counter-play (like I am), you may find yourself wondering how something like Pikkon could be created. There is no interesting Counter-play avenues against Pikkon. If you are playing any number of Events outside of TIAWT, you are likely going to have a bad time against Pikkon, and there’s really nothing you can do to stop that.
If you are the sort of player that like to see the meta evolve and change from set to set (again, like I am), you see Pikkon as an example of limiting older deck strategies to promote newer deck design and gameplay. With that in mind, you should have no problem virtually ignoring the constant effects of Pikkon, and instead only need to focus on his other abilities, which are still quite bothersome, but are much more manageable.
The real goal of this post is just to acknowledge that certain powercreep in the game should not go unnoticed. Especially ones that destroy entire archetypes of play for those that enjoy it. Event-Heavy strategies already have a hard time dealing with high impact decks. So why are they being punished more brutally just to try and passively tame the Unleashed style of deck? In truth, what should have been pushed is a strategy that promotes non-MP advancing Event strategies. In that sense, you can still go about punishing Unleashed and Goku (which appears to be the intent of the stack), while still permitting the game to retain this Event style of deck (which also can punish the likes of Unleashed).
After it’s all said and done, I think Pikkon is a fantastic addition to the game. My only real gripe with the MP is that it makes the design of Events harder to create moving forward. If an Event becomes too good, you’ll see Pikkon; and if that Event is weak, why print it in the first place?
Thanks for checking in. I hope to hear what you all have to say regarding the article! Don’t forget to check out the Poll on the “Theory-Crafting 101” article from Tuesday. Final results will be tallied at Midnight CST on Monday. So do your duty and vote!
Until next time, FanZ Warriors!